80: Touching Hearts

80: Touching Hearts

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Nurses

Touching Hearts

There is something in the nature of things which the mind of man, which reason, which human power cannot effect, and certainly that which produces this must be better than man.


I was working as a nurse in a surgery department for a small community hospital when I attended a Sunday evening service where missionaries presented stories of their work in foreign countries. I knew then I needed to use my nursing skills in some type of missionary work. I found a wonderful organization through my church, and signed on for a trip.

I’d never been away from my wife for any length of time, had never flown in a large airplane, and was nervous about traveling to another country. My anxiety heightened when we arrived in Honduras. We rode four-and-a-half hours on an old school bus and stopped at a police checkpoint. Our translator cautioned us not to take pictures and to stay on the bus. We finally continued our journey and arrived at a motel where a man stood guard with an automatic rifle. Our leader immediately began searching for a safer place to stay. My heart thumped. I had never been exposed to anything like this before, but I knew I had a calling to work in a medical clinic in this dangerous territory.

But first we had to build one. The first two days, we medical volunteers assisted the volunteer construction team in building a clinic. The local Hondurans had made blocks from clay and laid them in the sun to dry. Constructing a building from the blocks and working in the intense heat and humidity was tough, physically and mentally.

After a couple of days, we medical volunteers traveled to other communities to provide care. Two Honduran physicians accompanied us. I was shocked to see hundreds of people lined up in hope of accessing care for problems ranging from malnutrition to infections. They looked at us as if we were superstars, though I’m sure they were snickering at my Southern-drawl Spanish. Through the heat and labor, it was great to be needed and appreciated.

One community, once ravaged by a hurricane, had a sign at the main entrance with flags from various countries that had funded its rebuilding. Now people in tiny clay-block homes had access to out-houses and a water tower. Kids were running around playing games.

We set up a makeshift clinic in a one-room church building there. The windows were actually holes covered by large pieces of removable plywood. Tables near the front of the church held medications. In one corner, two curtains were hung to make two exam rooms. Crowds started pouring into the church. The temperature was scorching that day and there was no breeze despite the open windows.

I assisted one of the physicians in the hot exam room. A young boy, probably six or seven years old, was escorted by his mother, who began talking to the Honduran doctor in Spanish. The doctor examined the boy and listened to his chest with a stethoscope. He suddenly stopped and said to me in English, “This boy has a heart murmur so large you can feel it by placing a hand on his chest.” As I did so, I was astounded to feel the swishing of the blood through the hole in this little boy’s heart.

The physician said softly, “There are no facilities here for this child to have surgery or any medical intervention.” He frowned. “All we can do is pray.”

Instinctively, I placed my hand on the boy’s chest again, this time to pray to God for his healing. The physician joined in Spanish as fervently as I prayed in English. Then I felt something I had never felt before and I have never felt again. An electrical shock initiated at the top of my head and jolted through my arm and then left my hand. I was overwhelmed with emotion and the strong feeling of God’s presence.

After soft words of explanation and limited medical directives, the boy and his mother left our clinic. We completed our day and I couldn’t wait to tell the other volunteers about my life-changing event. As we rode our bus back to the hotel, I eagerly recounted my experience. One group member said, “Wait until you hear what we experienced at the exact same time!”

The hot humid air had been stifling in the church, he said. The plywood windows were open but there was no air movement. As more people gathered in the church, it got even hotter. “We heard you praying behind the curtain. Just then a breeze began to blow in the church, but it wasn’t coming from the windows or the open doors. We looked toward your exam room and saw the sheet blowing outward there! We, too, all felt the presence of God.”

The Great Physician touched many hearts that week, perhaps mine most of all.

~Jeff Radford

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